It’s not as economical as the competition, though. WLTP test figures of between 54.3mpg and 56.5mpg give it average CO2 emissions of between 131g/km and 138g/km. By comparison, the 320d can boast respective figures of 56.5-62.8mpg and 118-130g/km.
The outstanding action of the C220d’s gearbox helps matters, it shifting crisply and smoothly at all times. And this driveline precision is reflected in the handling, which takes on a more responsive nature than ever before. It all starts with the steering, which is both well weighted and, thanks to the adoption of an altered ratio, more eager in its action.
The optional all-wheel steering system will appeal to enthusiast drivers, providing a clear lift in agility. It’s probably less suited to the relaxed qualities of the C220d than other new C-Class variants, but it’s still well worth consideration for those who do a lot of urban driving, solely on its ability to provide a 43cm reduction in the turning circle (down to 10.64 metres) for greater low-speed manoeuvrability and ease of parking.
The ability of the suspension to soak up surface irregularities, unobtrusively handle bumps and authoritatively deal with changes of camber helps to provide the new C-Class with a wonderfully flowing nature. It’s tremendously easy to place on the road, aiming directly where you point it, and there’s great balance to its actions.
It also has very impressive levels of grip, yet, as proved by an extended drive in the rolling hills an hour or so south of Stuttgart, it’s the body control that really stands out. The C-Class remains super-composed when you run it hard up to the apex of a corner, with roll building in a clearly defined manner, while the chassis provides a clear picture of where the limits of adhesion are set.
As highly as we rate the 320d for driving dynamics, the C220d surely runs it close. It will be a fascinating test when we get the two together.
It’s clear already, though, that this new Mercedes pips its BMW rival for ride quality, at least when specified with the optional adaptive damping control, as our test car was. This gives it a great spread in character, providing it with a truly cosseting feel in Comfort driving mode and clearly more athletic traits in Sport.